How Does the Red Wolf Protect Itself?

While red wolves have few natural predators, they have evolved a number of adaptations that allow them to defend themselves from people, bears and other wolves. Their primary defensive mechanisms include their pack-forming behavior, strong sense of smell, and impressive level of endurance.

Red wolves usually live in packs that consist of a mated pair and their offspring. However, they occasionally form larger groups, which are comprised of related and unrelated individuals. By living in packs, wolves are better able to defend themselves from bears and other wolves. Additionally, because more than one wolf is able to sniff the air for potential danger, pack members are more likely to smell an approaching predator than if they lived by themselves.

In addition to their senses and pack-forming habits, red wolves have incredible endurance, just like their gray wolf cousins. Endurance allows wolves to follow prey or flee from predators for long distances. Most prey animals eventually tire when pursued by wolves, while predators are likely to give up and chase easier prey.

Red wolves were formerly found in the Southeastern United States, but they have been extirpated from most — if not all — of their former range. The IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species lists the red wolf as a critically endangered species.